A Prize in Every Box

cracker jack 768 blog

One of the driving forces here at Kowalski Heat Treating is “working to delight our customers”. It’s woven into the fabric of the company Dad started over 40 years ago, and it’s still around today. More than just processing your work, treating metal and delivering goods, we like to add a little extra to what we do – whether that’s nailing a delivery promise, finding a new and better way to finish products, or just treating you with fun and respect. We think of it as “our little prize”.

When I was a kid, I loved Cracker Jack. Not just the tasty snack, but digging in and “discovering” the prize inside. I always got a kick out of finding the card, ring, tattoo, or little plastic figurines. I enjoyed the feeling I got when I found it and like to share the same with you.

I did some internet digging, and discovered today (Feb 19th) is the anniversary of “the first little prize inside” (thanks Wikipedia!). So, for all my trivia buffs out there, here’s some facts and tidbits to share:

  • Cracker Jack is an American brand of snack food, consisting of molasses flavored caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts, first registered in 1896, considered by some as “the first junk food”
  • Frederick William Rueckheim (Fritz), a German born immigrant sold hand-made steamed popcorn on the streets of Chicago beginning in 1871. Later joined by his brother Louis, (family business YEAH!) they first presented a popcorn confection to the public at the 1893 World’s Expo/Fair.
  • After adding a small quantity of oil to his mixture to separate the “chunks”, Louis created his first batch of what they called “Cracker Jack”, after a sampler said “that’s a cracker jack” (meaning of excellent quality) and the name was born.
  • In 1899, Henry Eckstein developed the famous waxed sealed packaging to retain freshness and moisture protection.
  • “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, a song written by lyricist Jack Norworth and composer Albert Von Tilzer, gave Cracker Jack free publicity when it was released in 1908 with the line: “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack!” – and we still sing it today.
  • Cracker Jack’s Mascots Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo were introduced as early as 1916 – (modeled after grandson Robert and a stray dog named Russell).
  • The Cracker Jack Company began advertising on television in 1955. appearing on CBS-Television’s On Your Account. The actor who appeared in many commercials was Jack Gilford – Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop were Cracker Jack spokespersons in the 60’s.
  • The prizes attained pop-culture status with the catch phrase “came in a cracker jack box” applied sarcastically to engagement and wedding rings of dubious investment.
  • Many attempts were made to extend the line, including a caffeine infused product called Cracker Jack’D.
  • Statisticians say if you stacked all the Cracker Jack product that’s been manufactured, it would circle the globe over 65 times – (that’s a lot of Jack!)
  • Now – can you sing the jingle?? “Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize – that’s what you get from Cracker Jack.” (great – now it’s stuck in your head too!!)




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